Half Bath Reno: Painted Black

Finished bath
By Elle

Most people would hesitate to paint a room black, especially a small one, but that’s exactly what we did in our half bath, which, I assure you, is small. As in wee. As in minuscule.

But that’s how we roll, bold home fixer-uppers that we are.

Actually, I’m telling a half-truth about the half bath, because only half the wall (upper half, that is) is painted black. The lower half is all marble.

Somebody got a bee in his bonnet about installing marble in this room  — and who am I to argue? — but we settled on tiling just the lower half, because we really were intrigued with painting the walls black.

Finished bath 3

It’s tough to take a good photo of the bathroom because it’s so small!

marble tile layout

We determined the pattern for the marble by laying it out on the floor and moving pieces around until we achieved a look we liked.

Concrete backer board

Concrete backer board went up first, then the marble. The backer board won’t disintegrate if it gets wet (if we have a plumbing issue, which we shouldn’t since we addressed that potential problem as part of the renovation), and it’s sturdy enough to hold the weight of the marble.

Marble cutting area

Our marble-cutting workshop, aka the garage floor. It’s messy business. I’d say our garage usually isn’t such a disaster zone, but I’d be telling another half-truth.

marble tiled walls

Two walls of marble tile done! Just waiting for grout and a chair rail.


We kept the original sink because it’s low-profile. A sink any larger would overwhelm the small space.

Over-the-sink light

We also kept the over-the-sink light fixture because (a) there is nothing wrong with it, and (b) it actually complements the look.

We like the mix of wood and marble in the room, so we let our color scheme echo those elements by using grey, black, white and brown.

The tile below (Montagna Wood Vintage Chic 6 in. x 24 in. Porcelain Floor and Wall Tile) looks like reclaimed wood. We used it to create the wall treatment behind the sink but instead of limiting it to a few inches above the sink, we took it nearly all the way up the wall.

Sink backsplash

The porcelain tile complements both the marble below it and the wooden window frame next to it.

We weren’t sure if we were going to love the reclaimed wood look next to the white marble, so we laid the pieces on the floor first. Yeah, it was love at first sight.

Porcelain tile layout

This porcelain tile looks remarkably like reclaimed wood.

Sink corner

Marble Chair Rail Molding

We used a marble chair rail to trim the tile and chose a dark grout to make the color of the marble pop.

Black walls

We tried three black paints on the walls before settling on this one. The first was too green, the second was too blue and the third — a mistint from Lowe’s, believe it or not — was just right — and cheap, which makes it even more right.

Silver ceiling

Originally, we wanted to tile the ceiling with silver tin tiles, but I think we just got overwhelmed. Although this is by far the smallest room in our house, the renovation took a ton of time and effort. Even the light switch (below), which had to be repositioned, is new.

So we settled on painting the ceiling silver. Paint color: proprietary mix of a half dozen samples we had on hand from other projects!

Modern light switch

Finished bath

I adore the interplay of textures and materials. The bathroom door is a beautiful solid wood, and really stands out now that the renovation is done. The only update we made to the door (actually to all the doors in the house) was to change out the doorknobs from old, beat up brass knobs to modern black ones.

Framed original photo, taken in Florence, Italy

So far, this is the only art on the wall. It’s a photo we took in Florence, Italy, in the Piazza della Signoria. Marble statue, marble bathroom — you get it.

Wormy chestnut mirror

You can see we didn’t take the porcelain tile all the way to the ceiling. We staggered it almost to the top to give it an artsy flair. Because the ceiling in the bathroom is 9 feet, it feels even higher with the tile staggered.

Found the exquisite mirror at our favorite store, Craft & Antique Co-op in Painesville. Made from wormy chestnut, the mirror was handcrafted by a local artisan. We paid $35, which I think is a steal.

Low-profile sink


A rug from Aldi was the finishing touch. I wasn’t looking for it, but it immediately caught my eye because of the size and the colors: grey, black, white and brown. Like it was made for the space!

Back hallway

The flooring is the same as the laundry room, which is right next to the half bath. We used the same groutable vinyl flooring in that entire back hallway space.

Back hallway step

This step goes from the back hallway into the dining room. We tiled the step using porcelain tile and, because we’re quirky, we inlaid two ceramic tiles that represent our ethnicity: Latvian and Polish. The tiles, which are from Zazzle, aren’t made to be walked on, so we inset them off to the side. Pretty cool, huh?

Latvian coat of armsPolish coat of arms


Yikes, I almost forgot the “before” photos:

floor to laundry room that grosses me out

I’ll share the title I gave this photo: “Floor to laundry room that grosses me out.”

Back hallway step

Floor after.

half bath before

Half bath before.

Finished bath

Ah. Half bath after.

Definitely digging the “afters.”

Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please share it with your friends on Facebook — maybe they’ll like it, too!

3 thoughts on “Half Bath Reno: Painted Black

  1. Pingback: Deck reno, part 4: The big finish (and definition of finish) | Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design

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